Town Hall recap: Taking a stand against racism

Written on Jun 18, 2020

By Nicole Fracasso, OSCPA communications intern 

Black and African American people still are not routinely sitting at the proverbial business table, said Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, CPA, CGMA, executive director of finance thought leadership at Oracle. And while there has been growth within the accounting profession, she says there is much more to be done. 

"I can definitely see progress. There are diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives happening in state societies. I’m happy to be sitting on the National Commission of Diversity and Inclusion with AICPA,” she said. “But as it relates to who’s missing at the table, my community is missing at the table and so there is absolutely more we can do.” 

At OSCPA’s June 11 Town Hall webcast, Ellison-Taylor and Timothy Ryan, CPA, U.S. Chairman and senior partner at PwC joined Ohio Society president and CEO Scott Wiley, CAE to discuss taking a stand against racism. 

“We need action,” Ryan said. “It starts with the CEO and it starts with action.” 

Back in 2016, Ryan helped launch the CEO Act!on for Diversity and Inclusion to help organizations achieve their D+I goals faster, and pledge to support a more inclusive workplace. 

“Today we are at 1,090 CEOs who have joined that group, and we have over 22,000 employees who are represented by that group,” he said. “We’re trying to bring them along and share best practices.” 

While the CEO is a great place to start with D+I initiatives, 32% of webcast attendees acknowledged it is an area where the organization and the individuals need to grow. 

“There’s more we can all do at an individual level,” said Ellison-Taylor. “And that individual level includes making sure we are not Amy Cooper.” 

People will attend a D+I session and not realize they are the ones who might later behave in a racist way, Ellison-Taylor said. That’s why being open to learning is so important. 

“Inclusion has to be authentic and we have to want to be included. There’s accountability at every level of the organization,” said Ellison-Taylor. 

During the webcast, viewers were asked “What actions will you take to improve your own perspective on D+I?” and 42% said they “will commit to learn more about the history of diversity and inclusion.” One way to do so is to become more comfortable being uncomfortable, said Ellison-Taylor. 

While 15% of poll respondents said they find it difficult to discuss D+I in the workplace, more than half said their comfort levels have improved with experience. 

The accounting profession is learning and growing, and it’s important for individuals at all levels to grow with it. 

“We have an amazing profession and we have an amazing opportunity,” Ellison-Taylor said. “The world is changing so rapidly and the post-COVID environment is going to be challenging. We cannot afford to leave talent on the table.” 

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